Keep Doing What You’re Doing is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help me adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth.
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Changing Family Traditions for the Better
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
After the Stress: The Arc of Relief Takes Time
- Mark the occasion. Making it to milestone events is worth rewarding.
- Assume it might take time to transition emotionally and physically.
- Find something to look forward to that excites and motivates. It might even be great to refocus if a distraction is needed.
- Spend time with people I care about and who care about me to celebrate and move on.
- Find the humor in my situation. Laughter provides relief at a cellular level. I don’t have scientific proof, but I can feel it.
- Be patient with my feelings. I’m not required to feel differently on anyone else’s timeline.
- Be as compassionate with myself as I would be for someone I love.
Sunday, October 14, 2018
Weakness, Wisdom & Finishing Strong
Weakness, Wisdom and Finishing Strong
By Stacie Prada, Keep Doing What You’re Doing
August 17, 2018
Can I do it? Should I do it?
In each moment I start to struggle, I think about pushing and accepting my limits, and I think about whether I’m coming from a place of weakness or wisdom. Everyone has limits, and people with chronic illnesses have an added layer of issues to consider. I think it pushes us to be experts at monitoring our health, considering all of the risks and gains, and making wise decisions about doing what we think is best for us in each moment.
If I go for a jog, I’ll monitor my body to see if I can do what I set out to do. If I struggle too much, I’ll debate with myself as to whether I need to change the plan. If I feel awful when I wake up in the morning, I’ll tell myself that if I just take a shower I can see how I feel and adjust my day if needed. When I plan for my future, I consider what’s likely, what I’m afraid may happen, and whether I’ll be able to live well emotionally and financially for anything within the range of possibilities, good or bad.
Just thinking about my options and spending time weighing what’s best in the moment takes energy. My self-talk includes asking myself what would make me feel stronger in this moment. If I realize that the words I’m saying to myself are making me feel weak, I try to think about what I need to hear to feel stronger. How can I frame this situation into feeling like I’m deciding from a place of strength and wisdom?
I might find myself thinking, “this is hard, why am I pushing myself, and all of these (fill in the blank) reasons make it silly for me to try.”
I don’t want to be stubborn or expect too much, but I also don’t want to sell myself short. If I do less than I anticipated, it can feel like I’m succumbing to weakness. Yet I think it’s important to consider that I may be exercising wisdom.
It’s moments of weakness that push us to gain wisdom. When things are easy, we don’t need to work smarter or get wiser. We can muscle our way through them without much thought. When things are tough, we can do without, find a new way, or change our expectations. When I realize I may not be able to do what I set out to do, I can tell myself I’m sick, I’m weak, and my future is going to be worse. I might accurately tell myself that continuing to push myself will cause consequences not worth the gain. That if I do less today, it may help me avoid injury and it may help me be able to do more tomorrow.
I can be both weak and wise, and it can help me do better in the long run.
I ran a race after a really low point physically due to my Multiple Sclerosis. A few weeks prior, my fitness ability was compromised by my MS fatigue to the point where walking half a mile was taxing and caused me to suffer. I debated whether I’d need to call a friend to come pick me up and drive me home. It was a new low point for me physically, and I wanted to cry. It startled me and depressed me. I chose to push myself to walk home, and I gave myself permission to go as slowly as I needed to get there. I also gave myself permission to change my mind and change the plan at any moment along the way. I made it through, and looking back I think either decision would have been right for me.
I had a friend once say out loud at lunch, “I’m debating whether to have dessert.” A few minutes later, she took a piece of cake and said, “I won.” I think either decision in a lot of situations could be judged as winning. There’s almost never a clearly right or wrong decision. It’s just a million little decisions that add up to good or bad judgment overall.
In the moment of any struggle, the decision may be the same whether it’s made from a place of weakness or wisdom. What really matters is where my head is when I decide. When I’m struggling and not sure what’s best for me in the moment, it helps me to ask myself these questions:
If I slow down or quit, will it help me in another way? Will it maintain my health, my relationships or avoid injury? Will it accomplish another goal I have? Will it build strength, help with recovery, improve my relationships or save my sanity? Will I have regrets if I stop now? Can I slow down and still accomplish the goal? Might I achieve the main reason for the goal another way?
During the race I did, I asked myself a lot of questions. I weighed how hard it was in the moment, and I assessed how much farther I had to go to the finish line. I asked if continuing would cause injury. I decided that I could alternate between jogging, walking and running without hurting myself. I focused on what I could do so that it drowned out the negative, demotivating thoughts swirling in my head. I asked myself what I needed to hear in that moment to make me feel strong and wise. The questions turned to a mantra, “You can do it…stride, stride, stride…good form…breathe in, breathe out…you got this…pace to finish strong…”
It wasn’t all talk, and it wasn’t denial. I felt stronger, and I became stronger. I ran with purpose, and I slowed down when it felt right. I felt powerful both physically and emotionally.
With both the one-mile walk where I barely made it home without help and during the race where I found my stride, I asked the same questions of myself. My performance was drastically different, and my ability dictated both experiences. For the disheartening walk, I decided it was good that I tried to do it. Even though it was too much, I decided it was better that I tried and faced my limits than if I’d stayed home and not exerted any energy at all. With the race I pushed up against my limits, backed off and pushed them again. On that day, my body was ready to do more. These two moments of weakness and strength were only weeks apart. In both of them I believe I practiced wisdom and poised myself to finish strong sooner or later.
These questions work for me with any decision I’m facing. When I look within myself and am honest about the possibility that I’m acting from a place of fear and weakness, it helps me find my path to deciding from a place of genuine strength and wisdom.
Doing something or not doing it can come from any mindset, and it really matters what I believe to be true when I decide. To someone else, the decision and outcome they perceive may be the same, but the intent behind it will determine whether I feel defeated or victorious.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Repeatedly Accepting My Health Condition: It’s Not One and Done
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Childhood Memories By Chris Ann Smith
|My Mother, Chris Ann|
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Life Goals: Checking in When the Seasons Change
- Be healthy, organized, prepared, and financially well-off.
- Enjoy life, make things easier where I can, and spend energy and time on things I love or enjoy.
- Build and enjoy relationships
- Feel useful, contribute to society.
- Be as healthy as I can be. Strong, fit, flexible and energetic.
- Have a home that is relaxing and company ready anytime.
- Explore interests and follow them.
- Be excellent with my career and enjoy it.
- Be financially responsible, and prepare for retirement and possible disability while enjoying today.
- Do things now that I want to do and that I may not be able to do in the future if I lose mobility.
- Cultivate good relationships with people I care about and care about me.
- Express myself creatively with photography, art and writing.
- Health & Fitness: Improve strength and endurance. Be consistent with daily fitness, nutrition and self-care.
- Relationships: Call, visit, and connect.
- Finances: Be organized. Purge what doesn’t need to be kept.
- Home: Continue improvements, streamline things to make it easy to care for and keep clean.
- Creativity: Continue blog and cultivate writing skills, take photos and work on projects.
- Travel/Adventure: See family, explore new places and experiences.
- Career: Drive the office forward, accept new roles, cultivate working relationships and keep learning.
- Visit family, attend my high school reunion, and do a 14er hike.
- Write a monthly blog post.
- Take pictures and organize them.
- Work on kitchen remodel, try to finish before year end.
- Go to concerts, plays and museums.
- Maintain financial system, filing, purging and paying bills on time.
- Complete health insurance online health assessment to make sure my out of pocket is the minimum possible next year.
- See my neurologist and get MRIs annually. Take medications and supplements consistently.
- Have a daily stretching routine and stay active. Do a mix of short and long workouts weekly.
Monday, September 3, 2018
Each Person's Experience Is Different: My Highs & Lows and Health Goals
- Don’t have an MS relapse. This is a lofty goal, but paying attention to my body, recognizing triggers, and taking my disease-modifying medications helps. Not pushing myself further when I'm vulnerable has helped.
- Stay injury free, and do what it takes to recover (as much as possible) when I do get injured.
- Try not to get sick. It sounds a little funny saying that since I have a chronic illness, but I’m trying to not add more health conditions that I’ll need to live with either temporarily or permanently. I try to avoid getting a cold or flu, because it lasts longer than it does for others and it triggers other MS issues I have. I try to eat well and move enough to reduce the chance more ailments will be added to the list of things I need to cure or manage.
- Feel good. To me, this means keeping my weight within a healthy range, being strong enough to do things, and being active. Sure, I’d love to be more toned or look like I have in the past, but it’s not my primary goal, and it comes after my first three goals.